Woman looking out at beautiful view

Ah, the good old bucket list. We’ve all heard of it – the extensive list you create of things you want to do (before you kick the bucket). There are so many benefits to starting one. Whether you’re a secret daredevil, a wild thrill seeker, a crazy party-goer or a heedful adventurer, you can probably name something you would love to do in your lifetime. So, get your climbing boots on, stuff a luggage bag with all your travel essentials and experience the most you can. You’re in for one hell of a ride!

1. You’ll have amazing memories

Before we settle down in a relaxing nursing home like Porthaven, we need to feel satisfied that we’ve done all the things in life we’ve wanted to do. It’s wonderful to have those once in a lifetime memories of visiting the Grand Canyon, running a marathon and eating a whole pizza made in Italy, even if you know the story a million times, you need to tell it to the grandchildren. Just remember, memories are with us forever, not possessions!

2. You won’t forget anything you want to do

Nobody has a perfect memory, which is why creating a list is an efficient way of keeping track of the activities/things you want to do. It also acts as a way of keeping track, where you can put a huge tick next to whatever you accomplish and feel fantastic about it! There’s also a choice to make your bucket list online, check out websites like Bucketlist to get inspiration and unique ideas.

During all the excitement, planning and busier life this will create, it’s easy to skim over your self-care regimen. Make sure you consider your health and physical condition before embarking on another adventure!

3. You’ll feel more productive

It’s not just your goals; it’s your dreams too. That’s why writing them down on paper is important – it makes them more realistic and doable. They may seem far-fetched at first, but once you start achieving some, the others will seem like a piece of cake. You may also want to do things which are more academic and intellectual such as writing a book, composing a song, learning how to play a musical instrument or mastering a new language. In this case, you’re boosting your skills, increasing your brain power and having fun!   

4. You gain a sense of purpose

Too many of us waste our time on unnecessary things. Ultimately, we realise this and feel like our life has had no purpose, asking questions like ‘why have I spent so much time watching TV?’ and ‘why is my life so boring?’. It doesn’t have to be like this! Even if you’re sticking to a budget, you can still have a separate account for saving money. From starting a bucket list, you might even discover your dream job, and it will change your life for the better.

5. You’ve lived life to the full

Last but not least, you can say that you’ve tried your best at life and experienced as much as it can throw at you! More likely than not, when you get older, you’ll have no regrets about things you’ve always wanted to try doing.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a third party, but I love the message behind it!

Ah, the internet. What wonderful gifts it has given us. Thanks to Google, a wealth of information sits at our fingertips. Social networking sites let us connect with people all over the world, in an instant! We live in a glorious age.

But for all its treasures, the world wide web can often expose us to much, much darker things. For example, cybercrime, Donald Trump’s Twitter account and photos of other people’s disgusting food creations.

The great pineapple on pizza debate has divided people for centuries (probably), and I suspect is what spurred on this recent trend of doing unholy things to pizza.

“If we can’t defend this great evil, we must outdo it,” say the anti-pineapplers. “If we can’t convince the naysayers, we must distract them,” say Team Pineapple (go #TeamPineapple!!).

And so, the war rages on, as more and more people continue to test the boundaries of all that humanity holds sacred. The humble, yet perfect creation we call pizza.

As an keen pizza aficionado myself – and someone who never shies away from a weird food challenge – I made it my mission to sample all of these strange and beautiful creations. It’s not always been an easy journey. In fact, at times, it’s led me down some very dark paths. But what can I say, I didn’t choose this life – it chose me.

The pea and mayonnaise pizza

Described as the ‘abomination’ that unites anti-pineapplers and #TeamPineapple, this didn’t actually look so bad to me. I didn’t cook the mayonnaise onto the pizza (I’m not a lunatic), so I basically just tipped a can of peas onto a Margarita pizza, garnished with a drizzle of mayo when cooked and hoped for the best.

The verdict?

Delicious. Would (and have since on many occasions) eat again. I even tracked down the creator of this tasty little number, so I could thank them personally.

I also cheerfully responded to a great deal of backlash.

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 2, 2017

Rating: 5/5

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Pizza dipped in milk

Sure, I like a nice cold glass of milk to dip my Ginger Nuts in, or Oreos if I’m pushing the boat out. But hot, savoury food? I wasn’t too sure. I know some people have cold milk with their dinner though, so while I found the idea bizarre, I could sort of see how it had evolved.

Here goes:

The verdict?

Meh. A truly unremarkable experience. The best thing I can say about it was it wasn’t awful.

Rating: 1/5

Glasses

The Swedish banana pizza

So this is an actual thing that appears on menus in Sweden, apparently. Naturally Twitter got wind of it, Buzzfeed wrote a post about it, and I swiftly decided it needed to get in my face.

Despite being obsessed with all things Scandinavian, it’s safe to say I had very low hopes. I don’t like cooked banana or curry powder, so a recipe that calls for both of these things to be thrown on a pizza? Nah, you’re alright. But, I’d committed to this culinary expedition of mine, so I couldn’t exactly back down, could I?

Besides, I was starting to get a bit of a reputation.

Guys, I’m about to do weird things with pizza. pic.twitter.com/zDdHkTfZwF

— Melissa Boyle (@geekmagnifique) March 5, 2017

People, as I’d come to expect, were very supportive and encouraging.

Here it is, in all its glory:

The verdict?

I’m sorry Sweden, I love you very much, but you’ve really screwed the pooch with this one. It’s just awful. I couldn’t even bring myself to swallow it, so I did something I never thought I’d do: I SPAT OUT PIZZA. There are many controversial toppings out there, but in my opinion this is the worst to ever besmirch a pizza.

Hella nope.

Rating, in minus figures:

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Seriously guys, I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT EAT.

Strawberry pizza

It wasn’t long before the flurry of confused and angry tweets simmered down and it seemed my brief but illustrious career as a weird pizza taster had ended as quickly as it started. My stomach (and Dave, who was starting to eye me with suspicion and fear whenever I entered the kitchen) thanked me.

But alas, it would seem there is no limit to our imagination where pizza is concerned, and pretty soon people were at it again, putting things on pizzas that don’t belong there.

This time, strawberries. As usual, the internet was divided. Some branded it an abomination (apparently that word gets used A LOT when it comes to pizza), while others suggested it could be an interesting twist on the Hawaiian pizza. I was more inclined to agree with the former.

It was time for me to rise to the challenge once again.

As you can see, being in this line of work has hardened me; after the banana pizza debacle I learned it’s safer not to cover your whole pizza with your topping of choice.

Smort!

The verdict?

This one was genuinely a puzzler. Initially I thought I hated it. The texture of the cooked strawberry was weird and the various flavours mixed together weren’t doing it for me. But, my gut told me to persevere (well actually, my gut was screaming ‘ABORT MISSION’, my intuition however, told me to keep going) and after two or three bites I was quite enjoying it. The sharp tang of the strawberries complemented the cheese, in the same way sweet chutneys or grapes make a nice addition to a cheese board. I’d possibly eat again.

Heck, I might even put strawberries on the whole damn thing next time.

Rating:

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So there we have it

My foray into the strange and wonderful world of disgusting internet pizzas has come to an end (for now). But watch this space, because I’m always on the lookout for strange foods to put in my face.

Which reminds me. I’ve got some doughnuts to make.

Hummus doughnuts tweet

Wish me luck.

EDIT: While looking through my old tweets, I came across this. So I guess this is happening too.

Help.

I’ve never done one of these posts before, but I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things I’d love to find under my tree this year. For me, it’s not about spending a fortune, I just love finding the perfect gifts to make my loved ones happy. In fact, some of my favourite presents (both received and given), have been thoughtful, inexpensive ones. I pride myself on being somewhat of a gift-giving wizard and have achieved happy tears on a few occasions, which is quite honestly the most wonderful feeling.

Ever since I was a kid, folding down the pages of the Argos catalogue and losing myself in the sparkling wonder of the Boots Christmas gift set aisle, I’ve loved making a Christmas wish list. It doesn’t matter if I don’t receive anything on it, it’s just fun to do.

So, without further ado, here is my Christmas list for 2017. Yes, it looks like it was made by an 8 year old and no, I don’t care.

Mermaid blanket

I know I’m super late to the party here, but I’ve wanted one of these for ages. I can just picture myself snuggled on the sofa with Dave and the kittens, with toasty warm feet and mermaid-like splish-splashability.

Kangaroo pouch cat-cuddling hoodie

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to ABSOLUTELY NO ONE that I want, nay need, one of these.

Rose gold Moderno organiser

I’m a sucker for beautiful stationery and anything that promises to help me be less of a flailing mess. This ticks both boxes.

I will likely use until March and then forget all about it, but LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS.

Lush Christmas goodies

I’m not a massive bath-lover. I’m a bit weird about being in water full-stop (specifically having my feet in it). Hot tubs are a no for me. Swimming? Well, swimming can just do one.

But now we’re in the new house and I finally have a lovely bathroom, I really want to turn it into a little oasis of calm – and I really, really want to start liking baths. What better way to achieve this than by indulging in loads of gorgeous, festive Lush bath treats like this little cutie?

iPad Pro

One of my plans for 2018 is to add new designs to my Honeybee Cards range. I’ve been asked by a local bridal boutique to design some wedding ones (SO EXCITING!) and I also want to do some seasonal MH ones, for those who might find the festive period hard. Oh, and I’d like to perhaps sell some of the designs as prints, so let me know if that would be of interest to you!

So the plan is to kit myself out with a design tablet (I’ve also looked into Wacom ones, but would take any recommendations!) and really build Honeybee Cards in a big way.

Obviously, I’m not expecting anyone to get me such an expensive gift, but this is a wish-list after all.

Olympus Pen

One of my other goals for next year is to seriously improve my blog photography and work on my Insta game. I know this camera just screams BASIC BITCH, but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it from blogger friends. Plus, it’s pretty.

Priorities.

Sushi class

You probably know I’m obsessed with sushi. Dave and I have had a go at making it before, but we can never seem to get the rice quite right. There’s a great local cookery school called Flavours, that offers sushi classes (among many others – seriously, if you’re in Bournemouth, definitely check them out!) and I think it would be great fun to actually take a proper class and build on our sushi skills.

Perfume

Perfume is one of my favourite things to get for Christmas. I always like to have a new fragrance for a new chapter in my life and 2018 is going to be a huge year in terms of exciting projects. I love looking back on different times in my life – starting new jobs, certain special occasions – and being able to associate a scent with that time.

This is actually a perfume I’ve worn before (it was my ‘starting a career in marketing’ perfume), but I’ve decided I’d like it to be my fragrance for next year too as it’s just so gorgeous.

My 2018 scent is going to be Gucci Bamboo.

As you may know, I recently moved house, so I’ve been COMPLETELY OBSESSED with homeware. It’s been so exciting shopping for furniture for my new home, so when Sloane & Sons reached out and asked if I wanted to promote their latest competition to win this gorgeous chair, I was more than happy to.

Chair

Just look at it! I’ve actually been looking for a nice little armchair to go in my lounge and this might be perfect! I can imagine curling up on it with a kitten on my lap, some hot chocolate and a good book. Perfect for cosy winter evenings!

To enter, all you need to do is follow them on Twitter and RT this tweet.

Disclaimer: I was approached by Sloane & Sons to promote their giveaway, but have received no payment to do so. Plus, my thoughts on the chair are real – I love it!

If you’ve met me, you’ve probably realised that I’m a very awkward person. I stumble over words, never know how to greet people (is it a handshake? A hug? A kiss? Two kisses?!), and have been the perpetrator of many a social faux-pas. Trust me, I’ve got enough to fill a whole other blog post. Actually, I just might; it would certainly make for some entertaining reading!

I feel constantly paranoid about my appearance and spend hours after a perfectly normal conversation, cringing about something I said. However, in recent months, I’ve developed a few methods of easing my worries and alleviating some of my social anxiety.

Here are some of the things I tell myself:

“[Friend’s name] isn’t giving our conversation a second thought”

Are you worried about something you said in an earlier conversation? Take a moment and think about it. Are you over-analysing all the things the other person said? I doubt it. You probably don’t even remember the exact words they used. So chances are, they probably don’t either.

If, however, you have genuine reason to believe they’ve misconstrued something you said – ie. they confirmed what you said back to you and it wasn’t quite right – you can always send them a message to clarify. Make a joke about it, if appropriate, or apologise if you’re concerned you caused offence.

“It’s OK to make mistakes”

Life isn’t scripted. Sometimes we mess up our words or accidentally interrupt each other. That’s absolutely fine. Again, make a little joke, or apologise if you’ve interrupted someone, but don’t sweat it. We’re all human.

“It’s not always up to you to fill the silence”

Obviously if you’re hosting a dinner party, you probably should try to keep the conversation flowing. But I’m talking more about those awkward situations at work – you know the ones. Whether you’re trying to make a cup of tea around someone washing up their Tupperware, or enduring a silent ride in the lift with your boss, it’s important to remember that it’s not your responsibility to fill the silence. Remind yourself that they’re not saying anything either, so if they’re happy being quiet, you can be too.

“We’re all in the same boat”

Worried the person you met at that party last weekend thinks it’s really weird you kissed them on both cheeks? Chances are, they’re sitting at home stressing about the fact they shook your hand when you left, rather than giving you a hug. We all do it. Every one of us lies awake at night replaying these moments in our heads. They’re honestly probably too busy worrying about how they came across, to think about anything you did.

“It’s fine to step away from situations that make you anxious”

Sometimes I find large gatherings, especially with a lot of people I don’t know, very overwhelming. If things become too much I excuse myself to go to the loo, or step outside for a moment of fresh air. No-one’s going to think you’re rude or weird, and it’s OK to be honest with people. If someone judges you for telling them you need a moment to clear your head, quite frankly there are probably better people you could be spending your time with!

Other things that can help

In social gatherings I often like to have a drink in my hand. And no, it’s not because I’m a boozehound. Having something to hold (that isn’t my phone) means I don’t gesticulate wildly, which was something I found made me feel very flustered when I talked. It also gives one of my hands something to do, as I often feel self-conscious about how I’m holding myself and what I’m doing with my hands. Also, I find it really helpful to have something to sip while I talk, as it lets me pace myself, stops my mouth from getting dry, and gives me a couple of seconds to clear my head if I’ve lost my train of thought during a conversation.

I’ve learned to make jokes if I accidentally say something silly. I know – it’s easier said than done, and it definitely takes time. But I’ve really found that by not taking myself too seriously and just embracing my own ridiculousness, I’ve become much more relaxed in social situations.

Saying no

I try not to plan too many social events in one week, as I know I need time to recharge. You don’t have to accept every invitation – your friends will understand. Use whatever helps you feel organised, whether it’s a paper diary or the calendar on your phone, to manage your social life. Not only will planning ahead help you feel more in control, but scheduling regular self care time is a great way to avoid feeling burnt out. By being more selective, you’ll find that the social events you do go to are so much more enjoyable.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help

It can feel really daunting turning up to a large gathering by yourself. If there’s going to be someone there you know, why not ask them to come out and meet you at the door so you can walk in together? Obviously this won’t always be an option, but when it is, please don’t feel too embarrassed to ask. They’re not going to think you’re being silly but again, if for some reason they do, I would argue that there are plenty more supportive and understanding people you could be spending your time with.

Just be honest

Everyone has certain things that make them uncomfortable. What makes your needs any less important than someone else’s? For example, if you don’t feel safe in crowded places, let your loved ones know. In the same way they probably wouldn’t take their vegetarian friend to a steak restaurant, they shouldn’t want to take you somewhere that makes you feel anxious either. Your needs matter and you deserve to surround yourself with people who are considerate of your feelings.